Image: Koyama Press

Cartoonist Keiler Roberts doesn’t shy away from pain in her autobiographical work, understanding that the hard parts of life are what make the joys so valuable. Her work is as delightful as it is harrowing, exploring how these different emotions often intersect. Her first book for Koyama Press, Sunburning, was full of hilarious comic strips about her family and her career, but it also dove deep into her struggles with mental illness, giving readers a multifaceted impression of the artist. She continues that introspective exploration in her new Koyama title, Chlorine Gardens, which delves deeper into the difficulties of having and raising a child while also detailing how Roberts deals with an MS diagnosis that adds even more stress to her already difficult situation.

This exclusive preview of Chlorine Gardens, on sale September 12, begins with a single-page gag of Roberts soaking in a spa, anticipating inevitable discomfort in an atmosphere that is all about relaxation. She then delves into the frustrating, painful process of giving birth to her daughter, presented with sparse inks that put the focus on the character acting. Robert conjures some very evocative imagery, particularly the panel depicting the pain of her antibiotic IV, which she likens to getting staked and burned at the same time. Her greatest talent is her ability to put the reader in her headspace for both the most mundane and most important moments of her life, letting them feel the breadth of her experience.

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